In a spirited new defense of the government’s authority, President Hassan Rouhani has lashed out against conservative clerics and their allies who issue different rules and regulations based on their own interpretation of the law.
Speaking on June 3 at a gathering of ministers, provincial governors, and top executives, Rouhani said no one “is above the law” and “it is not acceptable for anyone in any city to toy with people’s lives” by their personal taste and their own laws.
Since winning the May 19 election with 57 percent of the popular vote, Rouhani has tried to capitalize on his mandate and strengthen the government against an amalgam of conservatives and hardliners who often use religious arguments to claim authority for restricting social and other freedoms.
Rouhani told the group that the people demand a safe society and not a “security atmosphere.” He added that people do not want lives rife with conflict and tension, but rather “they want us to preserve security in society.”
“The Iranian nation has accepted that there is only one leader and one constitution in the country, and we do not accept people claiming leadership in each city and by their personal taste and self-made laws, toying with the lives of the people,” he said.
Rouhani says people do not want lives rife with conflict and tension, but rather “they want us to preserve security in society.”
This is not the first time Rouhani has criticized people implementing laws based on their personal interpretations. He rejected the banning of certain cultural events in Mashhad, where arch-conservative religious leader Ahmad Alamolhoda banned government-approved concerts.
However, Rouhani’s attempts to overrule Alamolhoda failed, and other religious leaders got behind the Mashhad strongman and demanded bans on concerts in their cities, as well.
During the presidential election campaign, there were sharp differences among the more reform-minded and conservative candidates and attacks on social and economic issues. But in his June 3 remarks, Rouhani maintained there were no fundamental differences between the candidates or between his supporters and those who voted for his opponent.
“The differences were about the style of governance, and people voted for the style,” Rouhani said, in an apparent bid not to appear as the one sharpening the divide in the country.
Nevertheless, he reiterated that his government will implement the will of the 24 million people who voted for him and “the style of governance will be according to the opinion of the majority.”
Rouhani emphasized that government executives should pursue “the path people showed” and “defending the government is defending the people’s vote and [the will of] the majority.”
In describing the will of the majority, Rouhani defended better relations with the rest of the world, securing people’s rights, economic growth, and curbing inflation.
However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei defended the major campaign positions of Rouhani’s rivals in his post-election remarks.
Rouhani’s main rival, Ebrahim Raeisi, did not offer Rouhani his congratulations following the election, and has instead repeated his campaign rhetoric.
There were reports on June 3 about a meeting between Khameni and Raeisi. The latter’s campaign office explained that the meeting was a personal one, in which the supreme leader had thanked Raeisi “for his presence and activities during the election.”